I like this article I saw posted to Facebook today, Good to Great by Jim Collins. It talks about companies, but I think certain aspects apply just as well to professions.
My two favorite excerpts (bolds and strikeouts and adds mine).
1. First, development:
"Picture an egg. Day after day, it sits there. No one pays attention to it. No one notices it. Certainly no one takes a picture of it or puts it on the cover of a celebrity-focused business magazine. Then one day, the shell cracks and out jumps a chicken.
All of a sudden, the major magazines and newspapers jump on the story: “Stunning Turnaround at Egg!” and “The Chick Who Led the Breakthrough at Egg!” From the outside, the story always reads like an overnight sensation—as if the egg had suddenly and radically altered itself into a chicken.
Now picture the egg from the chicken's point of view.
While the outside world was ignoring this seemingly dormant egg, the chicken within was evolving, growing, developing—changing. From the chicken’s point of view, the moment of breakthrough, of cracking the egg, was simply one more step in a long chain of steps that had led to that moment. Granted, it was a big step—but it was hardly the radical transformation that it looked like from the outside.
It’s a silly analogy, but then our conventional way of looking at change is no less silly. Everyone looks for the “miracle moment” when “change happens.” But ask the good-to-great
executiveschange agents when change happened. They cannot pinpoint a single key event that exemplified their successful transition."
2. Second, flywheel effect:
"..picture a huge, heavy flywheel. It’s a massive, metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle. It's about 100 feet in diameter, 10 feet thick, and it weighs about 25 tons. That flywheel is your company. Your job is to get that flywheel to move as fast as possible, because momentum—mass times velocity—is what will generate superior economic results over time.
Right now, the flywheel is at a standstill. To get it moving, you make a tremendous effort. You push with all your might, and finally you get the flywheel to inch forward. After two or three days of sustained effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster. It takes a lot of work, but at last the flywheel makes a second rotation. You keep pushing steadily. It makes three turns, four turns, five, six. With each turn, it moves faster, and then—at some point, you can’'t say exactly when—you break through. The momentum of the heavy wheel kicks in your favor. It spins faster and faster, with its own weight propelling it. You aren't pushing any harder, but the flywheel is accelerating, its momentum building, its speed increasing.
This is the Flywheel Effect. It's what it feels like when you’re inside a
companyprofession that makes the transition from good to great. Take Kroger, for example. How do you get a companyprofession with more than 50,000hundreds of thousands of people to embrace a new strategy that will eventually change every aspect of every grocery storepatient encounter? You don’t. At least not with one big change program.
Instead, you put your shoulder to the flywheel.
That’s what Jim Herring, the leader who initiated the transformation of Kroger, told us. He stayed away from change programs and motivational stunts. He and his team beganYou begin turning the flywheel gradually, consistently—building tangible evidence that their plans madenew frame around the profession makes sense and wouldcan deliver results."